My Home Schooling Failures, Breakthroughs, and Realizations of the Day


Ever since I began home schooling Joshua and Caleb, every single day feels like a huge, important day. Every day is this challenge. There are new opportunities to FAIL in patience and discipline every single second of the day.

If you aren’t home schooling, just think about the most stressful homework day that you have, and then you will know exactly what I’m talking about. If you ARE a home school mom, well then, pffffff, you already know.

I always thought I had pretty well behaved children…..until I became their teacher. Who are these wild hooligans that can’t sit still and listen? Who is this child that thinks he can tell me that he’s not doing his math paper??? I can live with the forts in the hallway and the Little People in the floor. But why does it feel like my big boys need disciplining alllllllll the time??? I feel like all I do is correct, instruct, discipline, punish. I felt that way before, but now that I am with them all day, it feels that way even more so.

I try to praise more than I punish, but man, somedays it feels like I have 20 kids, rather than just 4.

Who’d have ever thought that Handwriting would be their favorite subject?

Who is this dear little one that keeps begging me for “more work, Mommy, more work. Me want to work!” I have been feeling so bad that I don’t have more work for him to do.

Oh, little one, can’t you teach your brothers your work ethic?

Oh, my Daniel. Daniel was the $10,000 baby (That’s about what he’s cost us in mishaps–plumbing bills, lost things, damages). Now he’s this helpful little angel. He always was, but I’m benefitting from that more and more now. I keep looking at him and wondering where he came from.

Then at night, Daniel often becomes the mischievous elf that won’t go to sleep.

Oh, but at times they are all so sweet to each other–as long as Legos are not involved. Things get ugly and territorial when Lego blocks are involved. No one is safe.

Gracious, we are so blessed to raise these darling little rebel rousers.

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As we speak, Daniel is begging Caleb for his Skylanders. Poor Caleb is trying to share them with Daniel, but of course Dan only wants the exact ones that Caleb is playing with. Geesh. Why? Daniel doesn’t know any more about Skylander figurines than I do.

The Realizations:

The most draining thing about home schooling is just handling my own children all day. Working with kids all day is the kind of work that is EMOTIONALLY draining.

We strive, strive, strive for first-time obedience, but man oh man, does it feel like I am battling this thing out more days than not.

Thankfully, last weekend I had the pleasure of getting together with a room full of other home school moms in my community. It was just the blessing that I needed! I cannot tell you how reassuring it was to hear that everyone is fighting the exact same battles. I’m not alone out there..

I also found it immensely reassuring that several of these moms were also home-school children. If they came out of it unscarred enough to want to do this with their children, perhaps it will all work out for us too.

The Breakthroughs:

There is such a learning curve to teaching. Today I had yet another (I feel like I’m averaging 1 major breakthrough/week, at least, here!) AHA! moment. Joshua’s school day goes so much more smoothly whenever he feels like he can do his math easily. Today I realized that I’m going to have to absolutely change courses on Jman’s math.

Yes, he’s averaging a B right now, but that is one hard-fought B. He could learn these same math concepts, but in a different format, that doesn’t make him miserable. A Beka is a wonderful curriculum, but it is way more advanced than what Joshua was doing last year. They are brushing over multiplication and division and heading straight for larger multiplication and division problems because in A Beka these are review items. This isn’t review for us, though. This is new material. We need to slow down.

Today I started copying the second half of Caleb’s math book. That’s where A Beka introduces division and drills problems like 2 x 3, halfway through 2nd grade. The mom inside of me detests using 2nd grade material for my very intelligent 3rd grader, but the thing is, it just make sense. We will still meet the objectives for 3rd grade, so ‘it’s all good.’ I’m hoping this will make all of our lives a little more peaceful.

Caleb, meanwhile, finds his 2nd grade A Beka Math book perfectly easy. Caleb does enjoy math, but I really think this particular company really ramps up the 2nd grade year of math.

I may have to take a step back for Caleb in Spelling, though. I may need to order him a 1st grade spelling book. It’s very important, when you build a house, to build it from the foundation up, you know? If Caleb needs a boost, I need to set my pride aside and help him. A good friend of mine recommended that, as her children had to do that as well, so that gave me a little confidence boost.

This sounds like a sad “breakthrough”: using easier material. In the long run, I think it will actually make them better at each subject.

When kids feel successful at a thing, they are apt to like it way, way more than when it was a struggle. I’m hoping that’s what I can put into place here.

Breakthrough #2:

Daniel and JD

Yesterday I went online, searching the internet for ideas for toddlers and preschoolers. I found this wonderful website:  She had a post titled 12 Tips for Keeping Toddlers Busy While Homeschooling, with a guest post from Heather at

I found this pretty helpful. Yesterday I did a ‘sensory bucket’. There are lots of detailed ones you can copy off the internet. I just went with what I had. I dumped a box of ziti, some pipe cleaners, some cut out stars, and some cups in a box, and called it a ‘sensory box.’  It was a hit. I had a hard time keeping Caleb out of it.

I promise they played with it before he sat in it….

You can find more sensory bucket ideas at

That did keep Dan and JD busy for a while, two days in a row.

I also filled a bucket with water and put it on towels, as the blog suggested. That kept the baby at bay even longer. Alan came home and said, “What’s with all the wet towels?”  ummmm

Finally, today, I managed to actually do a Preschool Time with Daniel, from 8:30 to 9am. It was precious. Of course, that means that I never got dressed today. It’s 5 pm. I’m wearing a brown t-shirt and some old gray maternity shorts. NO, I am not pregnant, but these shorts are too awesome to retire. I don’t care what the size label says.

Pre School Time was so precious. Daniel can count. Daniel can trace. Daniel loves to work and draw. He hates to color, so we didn’t really do that. He did his Thanksgiving craft….because that’s how far ahead he is in his book…Then guess what! I found the old flip chart from when I did Joshua’s Pre K 3 year at home! So we were able to sing the ABCs with them all written ever so neatly–as only a first time mom would do for a 3-year-old. 🙂 Then we sang “He has the whole world in his hands,” all the way through, since I had also written out all the words to that song in the nice flip chart.

You know what, I will never really be able to “do it all,” and that’s okay. Who does? Nobody. I just want to enjoy my precious children, while they are still young. It’s true, you know, babies DON’T keep.

The truth is I do not have the patience nor the self-discipline to home school, but I am well educated, I love them, and I have the time to do it. The more I do it, the more I like it. I fail every day, and when I succeed, it is through the grace of God. This isn’t me, taking care of my family, this is God working through me. I am so grateful.

Oh! I had more, but I’d better go. Alan just came in and said, “Let’s go to the beach.” Yes!!!

“He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it.

And it shall be said in that day: Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”          Isaiah 25:8-9

“Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength:”        Isaiah 26:4

  • Good for you for doing this! I just don’t think I would have the patience lol!

  • Bravo for following your God-given instincts in teaching your boys! Remember, “grades” and “levels” are just a tool to help you gauge, not a formula that must be followed. Especially with boys it’s important to have them working at a level that builds their confidence first before introducing more challenging material. Everyone is better at different things and it’s not a failure on your part or theirs if they’re not doing A level, grade appropriate work for every subject. You know better than anyone if they’re in the right “zone.” Also, I use some Abeka as well and it is often a full grade level ahead of what they say it is. You’re doing an amazing job. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Or your students :). Happy Weekend!

    • O my poor students. No really I’m always telling them it doesn’t matter to me how many answers they get right, I need to see that they are trying hard! It does make me feel better that someone else has noticed this about A beka. At least I know they are getting a quality education.

  • McMom

    1 – JD’s hair looks a definite red in the that first picture. So cute!
    2 – Breakthrough # 1: I think that is genius. When kids feel successful, they enjoy it. And when they enjoy it, they are motivated to succeed. I think “backing up” to move forward is great.
    3 – “I fail every day, and when I succeed, it is through the grace of God. This isn’t me, taking care of my family, this is God working through me. I am so grateful.” If that’s not a great life motto, I don’t know what is.

    Now I’m off to check out all your links on sensory buckets…

    Great post!

  • Donna

    I agree with all of McMom’s comments. ALL the pictures are great! You are doing a great job, Teacher.

  • I think every situation is difficult with kids, you have foreign bodies with minds of their own that drive you to tears – of joy and frustration! Kudos to you for homeschooling.

  • This is great! I really admire moms who homeschool…seems like a lot of work but totally worth it when you think what the kids get out of it! Thanks for linking up at the Manic Mondays blog hop. Hope to see you at the next one!

  • I give you all the credit in the world for homeschooling! Good for you!! I am not sure I could do it! Your kids are adorable!

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